Dynamics of the northern flicker hybrid zone : a test of the bounded-hybrid superiority hypothesis
Flockhart, David Thomas Tyler
The bounded-hybrid superiority hypothesis (BHSH) predicts stable hybrid zones are characterized by hybrids having the highest fitness within the zone. The dynamic-equilibrium hypothesis (DEH) predicts hybrids to have the lowest fitness and mating should be strongly assortative in the hybrid zone. I used phenotypic-based hybrid indices (HI) to assess mating patterns, reproductive success, and survival of hybridizing northern flickers (Colaptes auratus) within the hybrid zone at Riske Creek, British Columbia. Contrary to the BHSH, flickers showed significant assortative pairing (P = 0.038) which may result via passive mate choice if yellow and red flickers migrate from allopatric winter ranges. North American band recoveries show red-shafted and yellow-shafted flickers winter on different sides of the Rocky Mountains while red-orange hybrids from Riske Creek winter in the range of red-shafted flickers. Arrival dates of phenotypes did not support the idea that mating patterns are caused passively via different arrival schedules. However, assortative mating patterns did correlate with regional weather patterns along flicker migration routes as well as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) a continental weather pattern that has been shown to influence various aspects of the annual cycle in other birds. If variable weather patterns result in different mating patterns by affecting migration, the geographic location of the northern portion of the zone may be variable due to the migratory behaviour of individuals.There were no differences among yellow, orange and red flickers to win more agonistic contests or have earlier nest initiation dates, larger clutch sizes, greater hatching success, or produce more fledglings. No colour group had a higher likelihood of having a successful compared to a depredated nesting attempt. Aggression was similar between red (N = 21) and yellow flickers (N = 20) during taxidermy model presentations of pure red-shafted and yellow-shafted flickers. Using Akaike’s information criterion (AIC) in Program MARK, I determined survival was best modeled as either constant between males and females or varying annually according to weather. Models incorporating HI had less support but suggested that survival is best modeled as a linear relationship where red-shafted flickers have the highest survival. Survival modeled in quadratic relationships found hybrid flickers to have the highest apparent survival estimates in support of the BHSH. Overall there was no support for reduced hybrid fitness, but survival appears to be influenced more by annual variation rather than strictly by an individual’s HI. Overall, I failed to find reduced hybrid fitness in support of the DEH but also failed to find increased hybrid fitness as predicted by the BHSH. Annual changes in selection pressure could prevent introgression of hybrid genes throughout the zone if selection favours red-shafted genes in some years and yellow-shafted genes in other years.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
SupervisorWiebe, Karen L.
CommitteeHudon, Jocelyn; Hobson, Keith A.; Chivers, Douglas P.; Bortolotti, Gary R.
Copyright DateOctober 2007